Another season is about to begin here at The Ohio State University.  A lot has happened since our last game, most notably the loss of Evan Turner, the unanimous National Player of the Year selection who was drafted #2 overall in the NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

This year’s team has a completely different look and vibe to it.  Last year we had a veteran team without ANY freshmen.  This year’s team is the opposite.  We are bringing in seven new players, including six freshmen!  These freshmen have done a great job understanding what it means and what it takes to be a Buckeye.  They all come from winning high school programs and know what it takes to win.  They came into our program with a great mind-set willing to work hard and follow the upperclassmen who were here in the summer.  Our strength and conditioning coach Dave Richardson set the tone early on expectations and developing a work ethic.

Speaking of expectations, we are preseason ranked #4 and #5 in the Coaches Poll and AP Poll respectively.  Having lost the National Player of the Year early tells you about the job Coach Thad Matta has done recruiting and where he has elevated his program to in the last 6 years.  We understand that these are PRE-SEASON rankings and appreciate what others think of our program; however, we also understand that this makes us the hunted and we have to work even harder than before knowing that every step we take is a part of the journey towards the BIG PICTURE of a National Championship. 

One of our seniors, David Lighty, is entering his senior season 17 wins short of becoming the all-time winningest player ever to don the Scarlet and Gray uniform.  He has played for a National title, been to the Sweet 16 and has been a big part of some Big Ten Championships.  He also has been nominated for the LOWE’s Senior Class Award.  This award is presented each year to the outstanding senior NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year across nine different sports. The acronym “CLASS” stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®.

The CLASS Award celebrates the loyalty of seniors that honor a four-year commitment to their university and recognizes their achievements during competition and in their community while staying in school, all traits that David personifies. Award winners are determined by a selection process that includes, NCAA Division I college coaches in each respective sport, national media and fans.

We will need David’s experience and leadership throughout the year, especially as we enter the conference schedule. The Big Ten this year is going to be very deep and talented.  There are a lot of returning players on many teams and every night is going to be a true test and battle for 40 minutes. 

We open up this Friday against North Carolina A&T at 7 p.m. then travel to Gainesville next Tuesday to play the Florida Gators.  Our preseason schedule will be challenging and opportunistic for us to allow our chemistry to grow and get our freshmen some quality minutes to prepare us for a stern task defending our Big Ten Championship!